Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Hump Day Soundtrack: Songs for Wednesday

Oh, behave! Get your mind out of the gutter! Ain't nobody humpin' around here? In this context, "Hump Day" refers to the middle of the work week, which, depending on whether you tend toward glass half empty or half full, means "Yay, halfway to the weekend!" or "Damn, still half a week to the weekend!" For me, this particular Hump Day meant jogging around Lumpini Park at 6am followed by a trip to the Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty Building on the outskirts of Bangkok to extend my holiday visa for 30 more days, which will keep me here at least through 27 November (unless something drags me away before then).

Of course, there was music -- a lot of it. Perhaps the greatest thing about the iPod is that since it can hold entire libraries of music, it has the power to constantly surprise you with songs that pre-iPod you'd have to actually seek out and locate in your collection of DVDs in order to hear them. So, to quote ABBA (who, curiously, didn't figure into my Wednesday soundtrack, despite being all over my iPod), thank you, iPod shuffle, for the music, for giving it to me today.

Neil Diamond "Delirious Love" I'd forgotten how much I loved 12 Songs when I bought it while on on my second holiday in Buenos Aires during the 2005 Christmas season. Rick Rubin doesn't get enough props for being one of the best producers in the history of rock & roll, the guy without whom Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill, Red Hot Chili Peppers' second (1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik) and third (1999's Californication) winds, and Johnny Cash's late-December reinvention with the American Recordings series wouldn't have been possible. Oh, and he helped make Diamond cool for the first time for something other than songs song blue circa 1966 to 1981.

Neneh Cherry "Move with Me" One of the great pop careers that never quite happened provided a highlight from one of the great film soundtracks (1991's Until the End of the World) that thankfully did. I prefer the short and sweet 2:58 dub to the full 5:18 version that appears on Homebrew, Cherry's masterpiece from the following year.

Nancy Sinatra "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" As a guy who just dodged the bullet of a self-described "time waster," I now can relate to this Nancy Sinatra song (from her 2004 eponymous comeback album) and vouch for its wisdom in way that I couldn't at the end of 2005, when Nancy Sinatra, along with the aforementioned 12 Songs and the Killers 2004 debut album Hot Fuss, provided the soundtrack to that second trip to BA.

Mtume "Juicy Fruit" What does Mtume's 1983 platinum R&B hit have in common with Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" and the Isley Brothers' "Between the Sheets"? It, too, represents the very best of '80s baby-making music.

Morrissey "In the Future When All Is Well" Though I generally think of his glory days as being circa 1984 to 2004, Morrissey has certainly had his moments this century: "The Youngest Was the Most Loved" and this (both from 2006's Ringleaders of the Tormentors) and a cover of the New York Dolls' "Human Being," which was a B-side of "You Have Killed Me," Tormentors kick-off single.

Missy Elliott "Sock It 2 Me" I get a little misty when guest rapper Da Brat shouts out "nine seven" (as in 1997) as if life couldn't possibly get more modern. (Note how Timbaland's production previews what was to come on Justin Timberlake's Future Sex/Love Sounds nearly a decade later.)

Fiona Apple "Better Version of Me" Seven years and a mere one studio album later, the rough bootleg of Extraordinary Machine still sounds better than the polished "official" version.

Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach "The Sweetest Punch" The 1998 Costello-Bacharach collaboration Painted from Memory might very well be my favorite album of the '90s. It's certainly the one that's gotten the most airplay at home (wherever that might be at any given moment) in the years since. Though Costello's tendency to be overly verbose has kept me from loving him as much as I probably should, his word jumbles on Painted from Memory made perfect sense even when they didn't. Swimming in the sea of love and heartbreak, who doesn't stray off topic and off logic, lapsing into streams of consciousness, saying things one doesn't quite understand and things one later wishes one could take back. Not that I'd change a single word or note on Painted from Memory.

Prince & the Revolution "Mountains" I recently was thinking about how sort of dated the best of Prince sounds today, but some of it (like this mostly forgotten 1986 single from Parade), gloriously so.

Jamiroquai "Hot Tequila Brown" Every time I listen to a Jamiroquai song (and there's a ton of them on my iPod), I recall the time I met Jason Kay at an after-party at New York City's Supper Club in the '90s and how sad I thought he seemed. I've always felt the same way about his music, which might be why it always moves me while making me move.

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